Monday, January 05, 2009

Five Hundred to Five

Like so many of you, I have followed the news about the war between Israel and Palestine. I am appalled by Israel's invasion into Gaza. So far, over 500 Palestinians have been killed by Israel. And five people in Israel have been killed by Palestinian bombs. 500 to 5.

To Israel, apparently this qualifies as "equal justice." I am appalled. This would be like the U.S. bringing all its force and technology to bear in a war against Cuba. It seems completely unjust to me. It seems to me that the Palestinians are the tiny David against Israel's Goliath. For the life of me, I do not understand how the Jewish state can behave in such a barbaric way against a small, beleaguered people. I read in the Hebrew scriptures the wish that justice might flow down like a mighty stream. I recall God calling Israel to "love justice and do mercy."

I write this with the full awareness that it may be extreme. But I will say it nonetheless: It seems to me that the nation of Israel has become the Nazi nation to the Palestinians, determined to wipe that race from the face of the earth. May God have mercy on them.

The rules of the HoBD listserv forbid me from quoting any member with attribution. But I must say I was gobsmacked by the Deputy who said this:
Belief in Jesus is the only hope to solve the enduring conflicts in the middle east.The answer to the Middle East conflict is the acceptance of the message of the forgiveness centered in deep trust of the Cross of Jesus Christ. He died as a result of Jew-Gentile conflicts in that region 2000 years ago and he died in order to provide for the solution to all future Jew-Gentile conflicts. … There will never, never, never be a lasting peace in the region until Jesus Christ rules the hearts of the people in that region.
Is this man ignorant of the man who most powerfully brought peace and nonviolence to India a few decades ago? That man was Ghandi. He didn't accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. But he listened to the voice of God, and he kept India from exploding.

I have a hunch that that Deputy is among the Christians who hope for an apocalypse in the Middle East, so that Jesus Christ can return to earth and bring about the Second Coming. Those people give me the willies!

I was also humbled by another HoBD member who wrote:
In 1986 with the Cathedral deans in Jerusalem, I heard Wes Pepper of UPI tell us: "Everyone who comes here chooses sides. Everyone is wrong."
I am inclined to believe this brother in Christ, to doubt my certainties, to remain open to God's leading.

My passion and sympathy tends to be with the oppressed, and certainly it is the Palestinians who are the oppressed. The superpower Israel has killed 500 people in Gaza, while they grieve the 5 people who have died in Israel. Their idea of "retribution" reminds me of what the U.S. has done in Iraq and Afghanistan – equating each American death with 100 or 1,000 "enemy" deaths. I do not believe this is God's idea of justice.

How 'bout you? How are you coping with this travesty in the "Holy" land?


Blogger Robert said...

Sadly some clergy are very simplistic in their understanding Lisa. I too was rather shocked by that comment on the HOBD list.

1/05/2009 11:10 PM  
Blogger Perpetua said...

Dear Lisa,

I felt badly about my harsh reaction to your post at BB tonight so I thought I'd come over and see what you had posted about the California Supreme Court decision on church property that came out today. Since I see you haven't posted a thing about it, and what you have posted, it occurs to me that you may have thought BB's post referred to the situation in Gaza.

I have been posting about Gaza since the Hamas legislature passed Sharia Law on Christmas Eve. I've been concerned about the death sentence Hamas imposes on anyone who dares to criticize their tactics. And concerned for the Palestinians who are too frightened to ask Hamas fighters to stop shooting rockets at the Israelis from their neighborhoods, as they fear the Hamas fighters will accuse them of being spies, and they know how that ends.

I've also been appalled that Hamas has been storing rockets in mosques. And the media disinformation campaigns, like the purported Gaza City Market video.

Try this thought experiment:

1) Imagine Hamas throws all its weapons into the sea and says it will not fight. What will Israel do?

2) Now imagine Israel throws all its weapons into the sea and says it will not fight. What will Hamas do.

1/05/2009 11:16 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thank you, Robert. I noticed nobody has replied to his posting, but maybe that's all to the good.

1/05/2009 11:29 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Perpetua, you remind me of the wise words I quoted about those who visit the Middle East: "Everyone who comes here chooses sides. Everyone is wrong." I leave you in your certainty. Depart in peace.

1/05/2009 11:31 PM  
Blogger JCF said...

As I said over at Episcopal Cafe, I tend to sympathize exactly the opposite of the last partisan line I read/heard about Palestine/Israel conflict. Ergo, your post, Lisa, had me sympathisizing w/ the Israelis (whom Hamas has, after all, sworn to wipe out)...

...and then I read Perpetua's post. Which has me sympathisizing w/ the Palestinians again.

[Basically, I feel for ALL the civilians. It's just hard to know who, exactly, is a civilian over there, y'know? Certainly, all the young children.]

I hope that, under President Obama, the U.S. can become more of an "honest broker" in the conflict: we're obviously FAR from that now...

Lord have mercy!

1/05/2009 11:56 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for popping over here, JCF.

Can we agree on this? I don't know whether to support the Israelis or Palestinians. I have no idea what I would do, were I Secretary of State. But I believe it is a sin and travesty that so many innocent people are dying in this war.

1/06/2009 12:07 AM  
Blogger Perpetua said...

I think it is crucial to make a distinction between the Palestinian people and the actions of Hamas.

Please note that the links I provided do not sympathize with the Israelis. I sympathize with the Palestinian people being used as human shields by Hamas and under threat of death if they defy Hamas.

They are trapped between Hamas and Israel and Hamas won't stop shooting rockets into Israel from the neighborhoods. The Hamas leadership is hiding in bunkers and the fighters are masquerading as civilians at Shifa hospital while the poor Palestinian civilians take the brunt of the retaliation from Israel that Hamas provoked.

Hamas views every Palestinian civilian death as good public relations for Hamas, so they encourage the deaths and eagerly stage the photographs for the reporters at the hospital.

I don't sympathize with Hamas, which has dedicated itself to the overthrow of Israel, but I do feel tremendous sympathy for the Palestinian people being used like this..

1/06/2009 12:17 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

I am more shocked by the statements that Israelis and Palestinians don't value life like "we" do. I have heard that in every war - a way of othering and justifying our own violence IMO. The horror of it all is that there is no end in sight - the cycle of violence cannot be ended by violence.

Perpetua - good that you can see you were more than harsh at BB. I rarely go there anymore - it has become like Stand Firm - I am sorry Mary Ailes has gone down that path. And when I visit those sites it promotes the snarkiness within me.

1/06/2009 7:48 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

There are no heroes in the Mideast. What they need is some new vision that shares both cultures. I predict they wont get it.

Absent peace, and neither side seems to want that, the best we can hope for is an ammunition shortage. Really, these people kill each other because they do. Attempting to assign rationales is a waste of time.


1/06/2009 8:54 AM  
Blogger Suzer said...

All I can say is I support the innocent civilians on both sides. I do not support the leaders on any side. Of course, the civilians (purportedly) elected the very same leaders. This is one of those situations where, I fear, all I can do is humbly pray for peace and for God to make a way for that to happen.

Violence begets more violence. Perhaps the better choice for Israel would be to use targeted intelligence to capture Hamas leaders one by one, rather than bomb the whole area out of existence. The news this morning says a U.N. school has been bombed, even after leaders there provided Israel with the GPS coordinates of the elementary school and asked them to avoid it.

1/06/2009 9:12 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Yes, Ann. I too was astonished by the Deputy's statement that "they" don't value life like "we" do. "We," too, have butchered innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. So I wonder: Where exactly is our real belief in the "sanctity of life"??

1/06/2009 8:49 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Wise words, Jim. Amen!

1/06/2009 8:56 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Yes, Suzer! You speak my mind. I confess a feeling of hopelessness is nearly overwhelming in this situation. I share that with you.

I do not understand the people who speak with such righteous assurance ... either on this blogpost or in the news media.

1/06/2009 8:58 PM  
Blogger Perpetua said...

OK, here are two examples that show why people will say "they don't value life as we do".

1) here is a link to the video of the Hamas leader saying earlier this year that they desire death as we desire life.

2) here is a story I was following today about the explosion at the the UN school that killed so many Palestinian children.

On my blog you can see that I was discovering that Hamas fighters had been using the neighborhood as a "human shield" as they fire rounds at the Israelis, and then hid in the UN school. But from a link BillyD provided in his comment to the post, we learned that Hamas fighters had bobby-trapped the UN school so more people would be killed.

"The school grounds were being used by terrorists to fire mortar shells at troops stationed nearby, and the soldiers responded by firing mortars back, the army said. According to the IDF, the dead included members of the Hamas rocket cell, including senior operatives Imad Abu Askhar and Hassan Abu Askhar.

"Defense officials told The Associated Press that booby-trapped bombs in the school had triggered secondary explosions that killed additional Palestinians there."

It seems to have been kind of like a suicide bombing operation, except targeting Palestinian children and trying to make it look like the Israelis fault.

Yes, it is so hard to imagine. But Hamas seems to be playing an ugly game of getting their own people killed in order to get media attention as victims.

It works because we can not imagine the minds that would do such to their own people. It is too shocking to imagine.

1/06/2009 10:33 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Very good, Perpetua. You post a link to Billy D, who posted a link to the Jerusalem Post as the authoritative story on the miserable deaths of all those children. Please forgive me for being somewhat skeptical.

I remain where I was: I see this as a hideous tragedy on all sides and a sin against the God we all worship. And I will not post propaganda as if it were news.

1/06/2009 10:45 PM  
Blogger Perpetua said...

Hi Lisa,

Of course I want you to be skeptical. I want us all to be critical thinkers reading as many sources as time allows. But we should be skeptical of the Hamas propaganda as well as what Israel puts out.

Wouldn't you be posting Hamas propaganda if you ignored that Hamas is deliberately increasing the Palestinian civilian deaths to gain sympathy and you attributed those deaths to Israel rather than Hamas?

Even if you don't believe the Jerusalem Post, did you watch the Hamas video? And did you read the AP story where the two Gaza residents were saying the Hamas fighters were in the area of the UN school firing morter, the same Hamas fighters mentioned in the Jerusalem Post story? And that the Palestinian residents were afraid of being labeled spies for talking to the AP?

Do you know that about 10% of the Palestinian deaths so far are from Hamas killing Palestinians they thought were traitors or spies?

1/06/2009 11:17 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

My dear Perpetua. Read the U.S. stories. They are all slanted toward the Israeli viewpoint. You are beating a dead drum, my friend. Critizing Israel seems to be the "third rail" of U.S. journalism. I don't know why.

You wrote: "Do you know that about 10% of the Palestinian deaths so far are from Hamas killing Palestinians they thought were traitors or spies?"

So you're saying that 50 of the 500 deaths in Gaza are accountable to Hamas?

Perpetua, I am saying that ALL the deaths are heinous. ALL OF THEM! ALL! All! All!

Why is that so difficult for you to comprehend? Why must you continue defending the Israeli action?

1/06/2009 11:54 PM  
Blogger Perpetua said...

Hi Lisa,

I'm not defending Israel. I think they owe the Palestinian people reparations.

What I am doing is looking critically at the actions of Hamas and finding Hamas culpability in quite a bit of the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza.

As far as I can tell, Hamas is eagerly provoking and exacerbating a massacre of its own people because Hamas thinks we are too naive to see through its manipulations. They think a big massacre of Palestinians in Gaza will turn the public opinion in their favor, so they are creating one.

I have never been interested in the Middle East before. I was just following stories on Sharia Law, actually planning a series on Muslim women and forced marriage of British, and happened upon the Sharia Law in Gaza story just after Christmas. So I was following that, and boom, suddenly this war broke out. So then I was appalled by the bombing of mosques, until I saw the secondary explosions. Then I was appalled that Hamas was storing bombs in mosques. It has just been like that day by day. Every time I dig into a story I find that Hamas is not defending their people, but deliberately placing them in harms way.

1/07/2009 12:19 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Read what you have written here, Perpetua. You do nothing but defend Israel. You blame Hamas for the deaths in Gaza, though (by your own words) you can only "blame" Hamas for 10% of the deaths in Gaza.

You have indeed changed my mind, Perpetua. You have made me even more modest in my perceptions. If you want to convert me to an apocalypic "Christian" view, you have failed.

I return where I began -- with the comment I included in my initial post: "Everyone who comes here chooses sides. Everyone is wrong."

Perpetua, I want to distance myself very far -- very, very far -- from your arrogance of certainty.

1/07/2009 12:36 AM  
Blogger Perpetua said...

Hi Lisa,

The 10% was the Palestinians that Hamas killed as spies and traitors. On top of that are:
1) the Palestinians used as "human shields" by Hamas as they fire missles at the Israelis and thus are killed by Israeli fire, and
2) the Palestinians killed in explosions of Hamas munitions ignited by Israeli firing back at Hamas fighters.

Anyway, I do agree with you that we should be skeptical, but of both sides claims. Perhaps I err on the side of believing the Israeli Army because they have such great videos of their actions and are so precise in their targeting. I became quite skeptical of Hamas after the fraudulent market bombing video.

I notice today that the UN will be investigating this UN school incident. I hope we get a good report from the UN investigation.

1/07/2009 1:15 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

You have a remarkable sense of certainty, Perpetua. And in your zeal in posting here, you also exhibit a remarkable tenacity.

Yes, I've heard those reports you quote. I also read and hear very different reports that aren't quite so accepting of the Israeli perspective.

As the days have passed on and on and one, with new travesties and tragedies each day, I come more to believe that both sides are committing hideous evil. BOTH sides.

And tonight the toll stands at:
* over 700 dead Palestinians
* 10 dead Israelis

Who in the world (except George W. Bush) can possibly find anything positive in this? Jesus must weep at his children murdering one another like this.

1/07/2009 10:04 PM  

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